Image of baby

Our hospital provides vital services to Banbury's growing population.

We're about to lose those services.

What are YOU going to do about it?

Services that are essential to a district the size of Banbury are about to be transferred to Oxford because bureaucracy is being put before patients' needs.

What's under threat?
What can you do about it?


Although the ORHT originally tried to push the cuts through as part of a cost-saving exercise, it's now been widely accepted that money is not the reason for the cuts. Indeed, our decimated services are actually going to cost more.

The incredibly dull reason that our hospital is being decimated is training and staffing.

Due to disastrous planning at national level, hospital trusts have to apply the European Working Time Directive (which reduces the amount of hours doctors can work) at the same time as the hugely unpopular "MMC" is brought in. MMC (Modernising Medical Careers) changes the amount of time consultants have to train, reducing it from 11 years to as little as 7.

The effect is that doctors have a lot less hours in which to work - so
they have to make every second count, in terms of seeing the maximum
number of cases, otherwise they could start to lose their skills.

It is claimed that the workload in smaller general hospitals like the
Horton is too low for doctors to maintain their competency, so
consultants can only work in larger units.

We think the government has to be forced to change it's policy on MMC. It's outrageous that the implementation of a new training regime, which was designed to increase the number of consultants by speeding up their training - is destroying the very hospitals it was meant to support.

Furthmore, the goverment could apply to delay the implementation of the EWTD until 2012, giving those in charge longer to resolve the problem (which does not seem to be affecting other European countries as badly)

What's under threat?

- Our 24 hour childrens' ward will be downgraded to a day centre
Any child needing 24 hour care will have to stay in Oxford, almost 30 miles from their parents. This will cause great distress to sick children, and great disruption to families

- Our current obstetric maternity service will be downgraded to a midwife-led unit

All first-time mothers, mothers with even mildly troublesome pregnancies, and those whose babies will require special care, will have to go to Oxford to give birth. Any mother who finds herself in difficulty during labour will have to be ambulanced to Oxford, at a time when delays cost lives - assuming of course, that there is an ambulance available at that time......

- The Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) will be closed
Very early babies, and babies suffering from the most critical conditions, will be cared for in Oxford. The heartache suffered by all parents of SCBU babies, combined with frequent long and stressful journeys to Oxford, will cause intolerable strain to these vulnerable new parents

- No emergency surgery will be undertaken on weekday evenings, or any time at the weekend
Any patient needing emergency surgery at weekends or in the evening will be transferred to Oxford. This will lead to inevitable delays in treatment, which could cost the lives of not only the people of Banbury, but also those travelling on the M40.

- Accident and Emergency
Accident and Emergency will not have access to a 24 hour paediatric consultant; so many seriously ill children could face a delay of up to 5 hours being transferred
to Oxford for treatment.

Although A&E is not under immediate threat, we're worried about the domino effect If A&E can't take children, or emergency surgical cases out of office hours, it's just a minor injuries unit under another name.

- Microbiology will be transferred to Oxford
Literally; microbiology samples will have to be transferred to Oxford - in some cases by taxi. This will undoubtedly delay diagnosis. Some of the job of taking samples is also being passed to GPs - but without their consultation or approval. Patients could attend an outpatient clinic at the Horton but then have to travel to their GP to have a sample taken! Other people, with long running conditions, will be faced with repeat visits to the JR - an impossibility for the frail or those on low incomes.

Having an on-site microbiology unit is part of the minimum criteria for operating an A&E department. So if microbiology goes, this is another nail in the coffin for A&E.

- The gynaecology ward will close
Emergency gynaecological surgery often results from very traumatic events, for example in early pregnancy. However only minor, planned day cases will be seen in Banbury. All other patients, including women requiring emergency surgery, will be transferred to Oxford.

- Services for the elderly could be centralised on the Horton site
While our children, mothers and patients needing out-of-hours emergency surgery are being ambulanced against their will to Oxford, Oxfordshire's elderly people will be being transported in the other direction.

- Wide ranging job and salary cuts
These have already started, with 17 housekeepers losing their jobs and staff at various levels facing mandatory pay cuts. Surely a decrease in cleanliness and morale is inevitable? Will this be used to justify future cuts?

- All the above will inevitably lead to less training opportunities
Junior doctors and nurses must be exposed to a variety of procedures and conditions to fulfil the terms of their training contracts. It seems likely that the significant reduction in training opportunities will have an impact on the number of junior doctors and nurses working at the Horton. This will inevitably lead to further reductions in services.

What can I do?

Our hospital is being downgraded and our lives put at risk because bureaucracy is being put before patients' needs and common sense. So, here's what you need to do:

Email or write to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel

That's it. They're our last chance - there's pretty much nothing else you can do right now, other than get other people to write to them as well, by talking about it or putting up a poster.

You need to write well before the 18 February 2008, which is when they are due to report back to the Health Secretary.

Please write - don't assume someone else will do it for you. Every letter counts.

Thank you.



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